Jose Meza

My mother taught us to “thank God for everything,” even on nights when we had no dinner. We were poor and Dad and Mom and four children lived in a one-bedroom apartment.

When I was 12, I began to hang out with a group of boys. They showed me how to smoke, break into houses, and steal. By the time I was 16, I was a habitual drug user and seller. Then, some older men introduced me to rival gang warfare.

            At that time we moved to Montclair, CA. I sobered up for six months until I began hanging out with a crowd that had the same addictions as I did. One boy I was particularly close to was Steven. His brother was a Christian who began to have Bible studies in his house. Steve went to these Bible studies until he was killed in a gang fight.

            At Steven’s funeral, they handed out tracts that spoke about the love of God and that “The wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

            One night I was selling dope when I asked a friend, “What do you think happens to us when we die?” Just as I asked the question, a van pulled up and a boy asked if we wanted to go to a Bible study. We went because we knew they served good food.

            At the Bible study, a plaque on the wall said, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son; that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). I laughed at the thought of God loving our wicked world. Then they sang hymns. I looked at the Christians and I knew they had something I didn’t.

            I attended the Bible studies for two weeks. I hated my life and I knew I could easily overdose with drugs and die. Finally, I asked Tom Baker, the leader of the Bible study, ““What is this salvation that you talk about?”

            He explained John 3:16 by putting my name in the verse. I told him I wanted to go home and think about it. I picked up two tracts and read them on the way home.

            That night, I looked at the drugs and thought, “I’m not going to let these drugs kill me. I’ll take my own life and see if there is a ell or not.” So I pulled out a 12 gauge shot gun and put it to my head. Suddenly, I thought, “If you pull that trigger, you ARE going to hell.” I threw the shotgun down and dropped to my knees and cried to God to save me.

At that moment I remembered a verse in one of the tracts: “He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:3). As I read it again, I thought of the horrible suffering the Lord Jesus went through when He died for me. I realized if I believed this I would have a home in heaven. Right then, I understood what it meant that “God so loved José that He gave His only begotten Son.” I had known that God had a Son. I just never knew that He gave Him for me!